Marc Deschamps Pouilly-Fumé Les Champs de Cri 2013
This week I will publish the first of my Loire 2016 reports, namely my weather report and then the first of two tasting reports for the Nantais and for Anjou. The 2016 vintage in the Loire Valley was one shaped by frost, many vineyards suffering significant damage during the last week of April (sadly, 2017 has seen something similar, perhaps even worse). Of course there is much more to the story of the vintage than just frost, and quality in many parts was eventually very good, but this is detail for my report.
One of the region’s hit hardest by the frost was that around Pouilly-sur-Loire, a vineyard which has long fascinated me. The little town of Pouilly-sur-Loire is I think too easily overlooked by visitors to the region, whose attention is thoroughly consumed by the hilltop Sancerre and its numerous big-name domaines. And yet Pouilly-sur-Loire rewards exploration; it has a wonderful history, the surrounding region provides some fabulous terroirs, and its wines are of course world-famous, albeit under the name of Pouilly-Fumé (if you buy a bottle of Pouilly-sur-Loire you are buying a wine made from Chasselas, the vines originally planted to supply Paris with table grapes). All you have to do is scrape beneath the surface a little.
The origin of Pouilly-sur-Loire was Gallo-Roman, the vineyard that grew up here in the 5th century having gone by the name Pauliacum super Fluvium Ligerium, pauiliacum hinting at the existence of a domaine belonging to an individual named Paulius. It wasn’t until the 13th century that the name had mutated to Pouilly (or Pouilley, as it was written at the time). The vineyard grew, at first under feudal rule, then under the Benedictines, many local seigneurs having sold their lands to the monks in order to fund their participation in the crusades. Presumably this remained the situation until the Revolution, at which point the lands were redistributed among the people.
Marc Deschamps started out working with Paul Figeat, for a long time the mayor of Pouilly-sur-Loire and a well-known name in the region, in 1978. They had 7 hectares, which during their tenure they expanded to 10 hectares. This was the situation in 1991 when Paul died, and Marc purchased the domaine from his estate. He is actually located in Les Loges, a tiny hamlet downstream of Pouilly-sur-Loire and one known locally as the “village des vignerons”. Marc’s cellars are located on the right-hand side of the tellingly-named Rue des Pressoirs, as you head uphill away from the river.
This puts Marc in a very good position for Les Champs de Cris (there is some variation in spelling, I know it as Cris but Marc uses Cri), a terroir of Calcaire du Barrois and Calcaire de Saint Martin d’Auxigny, limestones and marls which sit at the boundary between the Upper Kimmeridgian and Lower Portlandian. Marc has some vines here, and they are the source of this cuvée, which apart from Vinealis (itself a selection from Les Champs de Cris) could be considered a flagship cuvée. Marc picks all his fruit by hand and the wines are fermented in a mix of stainless steel and cement, Les Champs de Cri seeing a little extended time on the less before bottling close to a year after the harvest. In the glass the 2013 Marc Deschamps Pouilly-Fumé Champs de Cri (bottle no. 13565) has a pale hue reminiscent of golden hay. The nose is all citrus fruits, orange peel especially, with hints of roasted almonds, sweet apples and white peaches, and pears dusted with salt and mineral freshness. It is beautifully fresh with a tense, pithy, vibrant structure, a slightly bitter substance, but a really succulent presence. It has poise, with real texture, polish and integration, and a long characterful finish. This is on reflection a very substantial wine for the appellation, and I hope Marc has managed to pick some fruit from these vines in the 2016 vintage (and, when the time comes, also 2017). 17.5/20 • 95/100 (22/5/17)